You perpetuate a transformative event by turning it into a ritual.
There is much in this episode that is hard to understand, much that has to do with the concept of holiness and the powerful energies it released that, like nuclear power today, could be deadly dangerous if not properly used. But there is also a more human story about two approaches to leadership that still resonates with us today.
Nasi is the generic word for a leader: a ruler, king, judge, elder, or prince. Usually it refers to the holder of political power.
The account of the construction of the Tabernacle in Vayakhel-Pekudei is built around the number seven.
Vayakhel is Moses’ response to the wild abandon of the crowd that gathered around Aaron and made the golden calf.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.
In Judaism, monarchy had little or no religious function.
So long as every crisis was dealt with by Moses and miracles, the Israelite default response was complaint.
Two laws have to do with the Israelites’ experience of being an oppressed minority:
Only in Judaism was God’s self-disclosure not to an individual or a group (the elders) but to an entire nation.
A fundamental principle of leadership is being taught here.
Moses did not speak about today or tomorrow. He spoke about the distant future.
We sense the pressure Moses is under.
six heroines, six courageous women without whom there would not have been a Moses.
It is not difficult to understand the care Joseph took to ensure that Jacob would bless the firstborn first.
The family had reached deadlock.
Joseph may have known ancient Egyptian traditions about seven-year famines.
The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is evidently a highly significant event because it is recorded in great detail.
Leaders lead. They don’t conform for the sake of conforming. They don’t do what others do merely because others are doing it. They think outside the box. They march to a different tune.
Could we understand the history of Israel without its prehistory, the stories of Abraham and Sarah and their children?
It was Moses who mediated with God.
The Torah scroll is the nearest Judaism comes to endowing a physical entity with sanctity.
The ancients saw the gods in nature, never more so than in thinking about the harvest and all that accompanied it.
Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers -- how is that compatible with the idea that children may suffer for the sins of their parents?
On the face of it, the test is simple: if what the prophet predicts comes to pass, he is a true prophet; if not, not. Clearly, though, it was not that simple.